The UTEP men’s cross country team head into the preseason ranked No. 2 in Conference USA, while the women’s team rank No. 3 the league office announced Wednesday afternoon.
The Miners are just less than two weeks away from the start of the 2017 campaign. The men’s team rank second in the league with four first-place votes, just two votes behind No. 1 ranked Middle Tennessee.
The 2016 season saw the men’s team capture its second straight C-USA titles after the Miners tallied a total of 24 points to defeating Middle Tennessee by 12 points.
Making their return this year for the men’s side will be junior Antony Kosgei, junior Jonah Koech and sophomore Michael Saruni. Koech led the team at the conference championship earning a second-place finish and secured first team honors. The Kenya native competed at the NCAA Cross Country Championships.
Kosgei finished every collegiate meet in the top 10 during the 2016 regular season, highlighted by a 10th-place finish at the 2016 NCAA Pre Nationals. The junior took fifth at the C-USA Championships with an 8K time of 24:15.30. Saruni garnered four top-30 finishes during the 2016 campaign and earned first team honors for his sixth-place performance at the C-USA Championhsip.
On the women’s side, the Miners are ranked No. 3 in the league behind No. 2 Middle Tennessee and No. 1 Rice. The women’s team finished third at the 2016 C-USA Championship, behind Middle Tennessee and Rice.
The Miners will have three runners return, sophomore Linda Cheruiyot, senior Lilian Koech and sophomore Winny Koech. Winny Koech was the first female freshman from UTEP to qualify for the NCAA Championships since 2012, and the first female freshman since 2009. She garnered four top-three finishes throughout the 2016 campaign, including two individual titles. The Kenya native garnered several honors including NCAA Division I Cross Country All-Region Honoree and C-USA Cross Country Athlete of the Year.
Lilian Koech claimed bronze overall in the 5K race at the conference championship and earned NCAA Division I Cross Country All-Region Honoree.
Cheruiyot racked up four top-25 finishes during the 2016 regular season and ran a personal best in the 6K at the NCAA Mountain Regional meet with a time of 21:38.50.
The UTEP cross country teams start the season on Saturday, September 2 at the Lobos Invitational in Albuquerque, N.M. UTEP will host its annual Lori Fitzgerald meet on Friday, September 8.
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